Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Another tragedy for gun-crazed USA? The answer is to get more guns

Crowds poured onto a Boston street to celebrate the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect
Crowds poured onto a Boston street to celebrate the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect
Crowds poured onto a Boston street to celebrate the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect
Crowds poured onto a Boston street to celebrate the capture of the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect
Columnist Mark Steel
Columnist Mark Steel

The National Rifle Association in America will be preparing its statement. Each time a nutcase goes berserk with a gun, the NRA insists that this proves everyone should have a gun.

So in a couple of days, it'll announce that the only way to respond to events in Boston is for every citizen to have a nail-bomb. In particular, marathon runners should be handed a grenade and a flamethrower.

The logic of the lobby that last week defeated the attempt to introduce gun controls must be that this is the only way to keep marathons safe.

People such as the pro-gun campaigners exhibit a special sort of genius. For example, on the night that the surviving bomber was captured, you might expect a mood of sombre relief.

But CNN showed cheering crowds and the reporter described the atmosphere as "elated, excited and jubilant". Maybe the anxiety had disturbed them and caused them to get the capture of a lunatic mixed up with New Year's Eve.

"We got 'em, we got 'em," roared a series of men, waving flags into cameras as if they'd won an Olympic medal. And once the story wasn't so much a human tragedy as a triumph for the USA, I couldn't help thinking, "Oh, you are masterful, aren't you, tracking down a lunatic covered in blood who'd been shot through the neck and was wriggling about in a boat in someone's garden".

The strangest part is that this excitement doesn't usually happen on the occasions that a madman in America gets captured after going on the rampage in a school, or shopping centre, with the sub-machine guns he's constitutionally entitled to carry.

There were no joyous celebrations when James Holmes was captured after blasting 12 people to death in a cinema in Denver.

It could be that there's a rule that the capture of a dangerous criminal is only a victory for America if the criminal is not American. Because, if you're going to go on a killing-spree in America, you should at least have the decency to be American. When it was known the bombers were foreign, the fun could start. Bob Beckel, a reporter on Fox News, informed viewers this was the time to "cut off Muslim students from coming into the country".

The New America Foundation in Washington declared that the problem was whether Muslims see themselves as "Americans first, or Muslims first".

But Adam Lanza, who went nuts in December with a gun in a school in Connecticut, was said to be from a "good Christian family".

There is another America, in which thousands of Boston people gave blood to help victims of the bomb; another America, in which tens of thousands have already registered for next year's marathon. But these acts can end up submerged beneath the more important need to yell about Muslims.

And, if it turns out that these particular Muslims have responded to the war in Chechnya by concluding that if armies come into your area with bombs then the only sensible way to behave is to make sure you've got bombs of your own, they ought to be offered a free year's membership of the National Rifle Association.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz